Album Review: Kevin Morby’s “Singing Saw”

Kevin Morby’s newest instalment Singing Saw is everything that his past album, Harlem River, needed to be.


Dark, brooding yet philosophical and soulful, Morby’s unique sound has resulted in an album you’ll listen to again and again.

Starting with “Cut Me Down,” Morby gets straight down to business, immediately enveloping our ears in sombre and introspective lyrics with an accompaniment to match. This song’s intriguing use of percussion is what makes it stand out, as during verses they match Morby’s vocals, giving them a harsh backdrop and keeping the listener firmly grounded.

The album’s namesake, “Singing Saw” is exactly what it sounds like – music that cuts to the core, making you ponder life and its many meanings. It is one of the more upbeat tracks on the album, but still contains long, pulsating notes that are brooding and wistful all at once. Unfortunately, this is the one song that cannot sustain the 7:15min it goes for. The accompaniment is heavily synthesised, and though starting out luscious, enveloping you in a cocoon of electrifying sounds, by the end it just sounds like a CD glitching, and you’re wondering how much time it is going to drag out.

“Dorothy,” the album’s single, is possibly my favourite song on the album. It exemplifies the raw, emotive nature of Morby’s voice, which is an interesting mix of simultaneously singing and monologue. Though accompaniment and vocals are fairly understated, they have an organic quality that allows him to sustain the song for seven minutes and it still feels like it’s over in a heartbeat. Morby has a habit of giving his voice a slightly echoey resonance, as if the track is playing over a 1960s radio, or even off a record.

“Ferris Wheel” is the most sombre of the album, featuring both electric guitar rips and Morby’s melancholic, echoey accompaniments and vocals. The song is a dark, brooding, fractured with teardrop like piano notes that lengthen into a requiem style tune to finish the piece. Unlike many on the album, this song goes for the perfect amount of time. “Ferris Wheel is emotive, powerful, and knows when to move on.

Listening to the final track of the album, “Water,” one almost feels as though they are floating through the song. This track is very easy listening, with a lighter tone, the incorporation of more instruments, and Morby’s use of a higher vocal register. “Water” is the perfect song to finish off the album as it seems to take a turn for the better, leaving the listener with some hope for, or at least a resignation to, the future.

Morby’s almost spoken word vocals will not be agreeable to everyone, and the singer is clearly unapologetic for that fact. This album was constructed for him, by him, to make people feel something and maybe do some introspective thinking of their own. It is a skilfully put together album, full of more lows than highs. But sometimes that is what we need in music – something to embody the melancholy we feel, draw it out, and turn it into something beautiful. “Singing Saw” definitely achieved that.

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